The Commanders have a number of players heading into contract years, including Montez Sweat and Chase Young. We previously heard that the team’s talks with Sweat were on hold following Josh Harris‘ purchase of the team, but Ron Rivera hinted that extension talks with impending free agents could soon resume.
Speaking to reporters (including ESPN’s John Keim), the Commanders head coach revealed that the coaching staff and front office continues to prepare for negotiations as ownership settles.
“There’s a lot to do,” Rivera said. “To assume anything will happen immediately is unfair; they are still learning and understanding us. We’re still talking with them and trying to get things lined up and in order.”
While the two pass rushers are the most notable players with expiring contracts, the Commanders have other extension-worthy players. This grouping includes running back Antonio Gibson, cornerback Kendall Fuller, and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.
Among the team’s impending free agents, Sweat seems like the most likely to re-sign. Keim previously noted that the Commanders would like to extend the edge rusher. Young’s future with the team is in question after the organization declined the former second-overall pick’s fifth-year option. The Commanders will presumably let Young play out the 2023 campaign before deciding how to proceed.
While the team may be taking their time with player extensions, the Commanders have been busy adding to their front office. With Harris officially taking over the organization, the owner has made his first splash, hiring CraigFischer as CFO (per Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske of the Washington Post). Meanwhile, former Atlanta Hawks COO/MetLife Stadium visionary ThadSheely has been brought on as a consultant, per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Jhabvala adds (on Twitter) that Sheely has been brought in to advise “on real estate and stadium matters.”
The Patriots’ decision to trade their first-round pick (No. 14 overall) to the Steelers produced some fallout, with the Jets believed to have been targeting Broderick Jonesat No. 15. The Commanders factor into this interesting decision as well, having also discussed a trade-up with the Pats.
Washington GM Martin Mayhew spoke with Patriots scouting director Eliot Wolf during the run-up to New England’s No. 14 selection. The terms discussed (via a video showing Commanders draft-night proceedings; h/t MassLive.com’s Mark Daniels) point to Washington not wanting to give up its third-round pick (No. 97) in a deal to climb two spots.
Mayhew indicated the team might be willing to send its fourth-rounder (No. 118) to the Patriots for No. 14, and a second phone conversation revealed the Pats were willing to throw in a sixth-rounder to acquire the Commanders’ third. But after the Packers chose Lukas Van Ness at No. 13, the Commanders stood down. Ron Rivera and Commanders exec Marty Hurney referenced the likelihood of either Emmanuel Forbes or Christian Gonzalez remaining on the board at No. 16 as a reason not to complete a trade with the Pats. As it turned out, both Forbes and Gonzalez were available.
Forbes, who returned six interceptions for touchdowns during a prolific career at Mississippi State, did not end up being docked for his size (6-foot, 166). Despite ESPN’s Scouts Inc. slotting Gonzalez as this draft’s eighth-best prospect and ranking Forbes 21st, Washington preferred the smaller player to the Oregon prospect. The Pats chose Gonzalez at No. 17.
The Commanders’ decision not to complete a trade to ensure they ended up with Forbes led to the Patriots sending their pick to the Steelers, who took Jones. The Pats ended up with a fourth-round pick (No. 120) two spots below the one they may well have been able to obtain from the Commanders, but the much-rumored bonus of denying the Jets a first-round tackle likely sweetened the deal for Bill Belichick and Co.
“I’m not going to delve into the relationship between New England and the Jets; let’s just say I’m glad we found a partner,” Mike Tomlin said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). “I’ll put it this way: there wasn’t a lot of hesitation on New England’s end.”
“We were speculating there. We knew with the acquisition of Aaron Rodgers and so forth, [the Jets] might be fishing in those waters,” Tomlin said. “And so we did what we thought we needed to do to get the player and the position that we coveted. … There was a run on the position, starting with, I think [Bears selection]Darnell Wrightat about 10 where they were coming off pretty clean. We just had that as a position of priority and we had Broderick as an individual of priority.”
The Commanders chose corners in Rounds 1 and 2, selecting Illinois’Jartavius Martin at No. 47. The team moved on from a William Jackson miscalculation last season and will expect Forbes and Martin to make significant impacts alongside Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Despite Fuller’s past as a slot corner, the Commanders are planning to leave him on the outside in their zone-based system, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Ron Rivera said OTAs have featured Forbes and St-Juste being used both inside and outside. Rivera noted the team liked what St-Juste, a 2021 third-rounder, brought as a slot defender last season.
As for the Patriots, Gonzalez marks the first pure corner Belichick has chosen in Round 1 since he took the reins in 2000. The team expected the Commanders to choose Forbes, leaving them Gonzalez, whom the Pats — despite their three-spot trade-down maneuver — universally held in high regard.
“Teams have to wait a little bit here in the first round before they get their picks in. We didn’t know, but we had a pretty good feeling as to how Washington was going to play it out,” Pats player personnel director Mike Groh said (via Daniels). “So that sped things along for us. Again, it’s nice when you’ve got a consensus on a player. So from the coaching staff, to the scouts, we’re fairly unified grade wise on Christian. That just sped the process along.”
This afternoon the Football Team in our nation’s capital announced a number of roster moves leading up to their Sunday Night matchup in Dallas.
Washington was thankful to add some players back to the active roster from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Backup quarterback Kyle Allen, safety Kamren Curl, undrafted free agent linebacker Milo Eifler, and starting cornerback Kendall Fuller all made their way off the COVID list. They did lose defensive end Nate Orchard to the COVID list, though.
The return of Curl will be welcome as Washington placed starting safety Landon Collins on IR, along with rotational defensive end Daniel Wise. Curl spent most of his rookie season filling in for Collins as the starting safety last year.
Defensive back and core special teams player Deshazor Everett was placed on the reserve/Non-Football Injury list following a car accident that killed the passenger of the vehicle, 29 year-old Olivia S. Peters. It was reported by Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post that Everett was taken to the hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries. The wreck is being investigated and it sounds like the Football Team is awaiting the results of the investigation before taking any further action.
The last move affecting Washington’s active roster was the release of defensive lineman Akeem Spence. Spence signed a week ago amidst the surge of COVID-19 positive tests.
Trent Williams has been one of the most-discussed players in the NFL for about a year now, and it presently does not sound like the Redskins are close to trading their disgruntled left tackle. One of the more overlooked talking points, however, is what happens if a trade is not completed?
We recently heard that the team does not plan to release Williams, which means he would remain under contract with the Redskins through 2020. And holding out wouldn’t earn him any leverage with the Redskins or with a team interested in trading for him, so as Albert Breer of SI.com writes, Williams would have no choice but to play for Washington next season. He clearly does not want that to happen, but at this point, his clearest path to a lucrative new deal may be to stick it out for one more season with the ‘Skins and prove he is still a top-tier LT.
Let’s round up a few more items from the league’s east divisions:
CB Kendall Fuller is back with the Redskins on a four-year deal, and he tells John Keim of ESPN.com that a number of factors brought him back to D.C. The Baltimore native played his collegiate ball at Virginia Tech and was drafted by the Redskins in 2016, so Washington is home for him. He also cited new head coach Ron Rivera and Rivera’s reputation for developing CBs as a draw, along with the defensive staff as a whole. Fuller indicated that he does not know if he will play primarily in the slot or outside the numbers (Twitterlinks).
The Eagles brought back Jalen Mills on a one-year, $4MM pact, and the club plans on transitioning him from cornerback to safety in the wake of Malcolm Jenkins‘ departure. Mills says that Philadelphia was the only team that wanted to move him to safety (Twitter link via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP), but obviously that switch was agreeable to the 2016 seventh-rounder. It’s fair to wonder, however, exactly how much interest Mills was generating as a CB on the open market.
Ereck Flowers couldn’t hack it as an offensive tackle in the NFL, but he has reinvented himself as a guard and parlayed a strong showing at LG with Washington in 2019 into a surprising three-year, $30MM contract with the Dolphins last month. This will not come as much of a surprise, but Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald says Miami intends to have Flowers line up at guard, though his experience at tackle made him attractive to head coach Brian Flores, who clearly targeted FAs with positional versatility.
The Bills opted against giving WR/KR Isaiah McKenziean RFA tender, but they did re-sign him to a one-year pact just the same. McKenzie told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News that he did have other free agent offers, but despite the fact that he is unlikely to see more playing time with the Bills in 2020 than he did in 2019, his preference was to return to Buffalo (Twitter link).
Kendall Fuller is headed back to D.C. The Redskins have reached agreement with the cornerback on a four-year deal worth $40MM, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.
The Redskins selected Fuller in the third round of the 2016 draft and shipped him to the Chiefs in 2018 in the Alex Smith deal. Now, he’s coming back to where it all started and he’ll help fill the gap after the club moved on from Josh Norman.
Fuller, 25, appeared in eleven games for KC last year and tallied 49 tackles. For his career, he’s appeared in 55 games for the Redskins and Chiefs. Fuller has usually garnered strong marks from Pro Football Focus, and he had the game-sealing interception of Jimmy Garoppolo to give the Chiefs their Super Bowl LIV victory.
Washington has clearly made upgrading the defense a priority under new head coach Ron Rivera, and they’ve already made several moves on that side of the ball. Fuller should be a building block in the secondary for years to come.
The Bryce Callahan situation is moving closer toward the Broncos not seeing him on the field this season. After a report surfaced indicating the offseason signing now may miss the season, Vic Fangio said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter) seeing Callahan on the field this year has become a 50-50 proposition. Fangio said earlier this week he was hopeful his former Bears pupil would suit up in 2019. The Broncos signed both Callahan and Kareem Jackson to patch up their secondary, but the former continues to struggle to shake off the foot trouble that ended his 2018 season early. With contract-year standout Chris Harris still a trade candidate, though a player that may end up staying, the Broncos’ long-term cornerback situation is in as bleak of a place since before the franchise’s 2004 Champ Bailey acquisition.
Here is the latest from the West divisions, shifting first to another key Broncos signing:
Denver’s Ja’Wuan James investment has gone almost as poorly as its Callahan addition. James suffered an injury in the first quarter of the Broncos’ Week 1 game and has missed every snap since. However, the well-paid right tackle is expected to start this week, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. James is believed to be set to play in a part-time capacity, with a three-tackle rotation between he, Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson in the cards. Wilkinson has started the past six Broncos games at right tackle.
In addition to Patrick Mahomes‘ Week 8 absence, the Chiefs will be without Frank Clark. The team declared its top defensive end out with a neck injury. Chris Jones, Kendall Fuller and Eric Fisher will miss another game as well. Clark broke out for a dominant performance against Bolles in Kansas City’s Week 7 win, but the offseason acquisition will have to wait until at least Week 9 to build on that performance.
However, the Chiefs will have Sammy Watkins back. The oft-injured wide receiver suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5, but ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher notes he will play against the Packers. In Year 2 of a $16MM-AAV deal, Watkins has not caught a pass since Week 4.
David Johnson enters this week’s Cardinals game in the same place he did the past two games: as a game-time decision. Kliff Kingsbury said (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, on Twitter) the former All-Pro back does not need practice to suit up for a game, but with Chase Edmonds playing well in relief, this shapes up as a true game-time call. Johnson suited up for Week 7 but spent most of his afternoon on the sideline. Both Christian Kirk and Jordan Hicks are game-day calls as well.
Marcell Dareus will undergo surgery today to repair a core muscle injury, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The defensive lineman is expected to miss 4-6 weeks for Jaguars.
Here’s more around the AFC:
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said it was “possible” that CB Bryce Callahan will miss the rest of the season, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. Callaham underwent stem cell treatment on his foot last month and the original projection was 4-to-6 weeks.
A.J. Green did not practice today for the Bengals and isn’t expected to play against the Rams in London, Ben Baby of ESPN.com tweets. LT Cordy Glenn will also not play in the contest.
January 13th, 2019 at 1:42pm CST by Dallas Robinson
According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.
If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.
Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator: